In these very rare cases the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence. He excludes real people from the conspiracy – because he considers himself to be so much more intelligent than other men. Phenomenal nature shadows him wherever he goes. Clouds in the staring sky transmit to one another, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed information regarding him. His inmost thoughts are discussed at nightfall, in manual alphabet, by darkly gesticulating trees. Pebbles or stains or sun flecks form patterns representing in some awful way messages which he must intercept. Everything is a cipher and of everything he is the theme. Some of the spies are detached observers, such as glass surfaces and still pools; others, such as coats in store windows, are prejudiced witnesses, lynchers at heart; others again (running water, storms) are hysterical to the point of insanity, have a distorted opinion of him and grotesquely misinterpret his actions. He must be always on his guard and devote every minute and module of life to the decoding of the undulation of things. The very air he exhales is indexed and filed away.

Signs and Symbols, Vladimir Nabakov (via Mills Baker)

Everything he saw became a symbol of his own existence, from a rabbit caught in headlights to raindrops racing down a window-pane. Perhaps it was a sign that he was going to become a poet or a philosopher: the kind of person who, when he stood on the sea-shore, didn’t see waves breaking on a beach, but saw the surge of human will or the rhythms of copulation, who didn’t hear the sound of the tide but heard the eroding roar of time and the last moaning sigh of humanity fizzing into nothingness. But perhaps it was a sign, he also thought, that he was turning into a pretentious wanker.

The Liar, Stephen Fry (via litblog.com)

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